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Cablegate: Japanese Morning Press Highlights 12/08/08

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 09 TOKYO 003327

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR E, P, EB, EAP/J, EAP/P, EAP/PD, PA;
WHITE HOUSE/NSC/NEC; JUSTICE FOR STU CHEMTOB IN ANTI-TRUST DIVISION;
TREASURY/OASIA/IMI/JAPAN; DEPT PASS USTR/PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
SECDEF FOR JCS-J-5/JAPAN,
DASD/ISA/EAPR/JAPAN; DEPT PASS ELECTRONICALLY TO USDA
FAS/ITP FOR SCHROETER; PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR;
CINCPAC FLT/PA/ COMNAVFORJAPAN/PA.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO PGOV PINR ECON ELAB JA

SUBJECT: JAPANESE MORNING PRESS HIGHLIGHTS 12/08/08

Index:

Aso in deep trouble:
1) Asahi poll: Aso Cabinet support rate plummets to 22 PERCENT in
only two months since inauguration; Public now DPJ's Ozawa over Aso
for prime minister (Asahi)
2) Mainichi poll: Huge drop in cabinet support rate to 21 PERCENT
as public rejects Prime Minister Aso for policy confusion, constant
gaffes (Mainichi)
3) Kyodo poll gives Aso Cabinet at 25.5 PERCENT support rate
(Tokyo Shimbun)
4) LDP Deputy Secretary General Ishihara says that party is at the
brink of disaster (Mainichi)
5) LDP General Council Chairman Sasagawa says State Minister for
Declining Birthrate Policy Obuchi picked because she had given birth
to a baby (Tokyo Shimbun)

Obama fever:
6) Democratic Party of Japan, seized with President-elect Obama's
slogan of "change," is studying his election campaign in order to
apply same tactics (Yomiuri)
7) Former Deputy Secretary of State Armitage, attending Tokyo
symposium, says that Obama as president will be more multilateral
than Bush (Yomiuri)

8) Government poll shows 71 PERCENT do not feel relations with
China in good shape (Asahi)

North Korea problem:
9) Family of missing Japanese suspected of having been kidnapped by
North Korean agents writes letter to President-elect Obama on the
abduction issue (Sankei)
10) U.S., Japan, South Korea delegates to Six-Party Talks agree to
press North Korea for nuclear samplings (Yomiuri)
11) Japan seeking new route to Pyongyang, possibly through European
cooperation, in order to find breakthrough on abduction issue
(Nikkei)

Defense and security affairs:
12) DPJ head Ozawa says Okinawa does not need so much military power
stationed there (Mainichi)
13) SDF sends support group to Iraq to help ASDF withdrawal (Tokyo
Shimbun)
14) ASDF provided airlifts in Iraq to over 30,000 multinational
personnel, including U.S. troops (Tokyo Shimbun)

15) Japan unable to meet new WTO target for tariff reductions on key
items like agricultural products (Yomiuri)

Articles:

1) Asahi poll: Aso Cabinet support rate dives to 22 PERCENT in two
months; Ozawa seen more fit for prime minister

ASAHI (Top play) (Excerpts)
December 8, 2008

In a telephone-based opinion survey conducted by the Asahi Shimbun
on Dec. 6-7, the rate of support for the cabinet of Prime Minister
Taro Aso was 22 PERCENT , taking a nosedive from the 37 PERCENT
marked in the previous poll conducted on Nov. 8-9. Responding to a
question asking who is more appropriate, Prime Minister Aso or

TOKYO 00003327 002 OF 009


Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa, to be prime
minister, only 30 PERCENT of people picked Aso, a huge drop from
last survey's 49 PERCENT . Ozawa outscored Aso for the first time at
35 PERCENT , jumping up from 23 PERCENT . With the prime minister's
advantage as the leading figure for the next election completely
evaporated, the Aso administration, only two months after its
establishment, appears to have reached a terminal stage.

The support rate for the Aso cabinet has now plummeted to the about
same level as the closing days of the cabinet of Aso's predecessor,
Yasuo Fukuda. The disapproval rating soared to 64 PERCENT from the
previous survey's 41 PERCENT . As the main reason, 63 PERCENT of
people cited the cabinet's policies. The rate of support among LDP
supporters was 54 PERCENT (72 PERCENT in the previous survey),
indicating that core supporters, too, are drifting away from Aso.
The rate of support among unaffiliated voters also dropped to 11
PERCENT from 26 PERCENT .

Some 21 PERCENT of people said that Aso had the capability to
implement policies, whereas an overwhelming majority -- 68 PERCENT
-- answered that they did not think so. Shortly after the Aso
cabinet was launched, positive answers accounted for 54 PERCENT and
negative ones 28 PERCENT .

2) Mainichi poll: Aso cabinet support rate drops to 21 PERCENT due
to gaffes and policy flip-flops; Ozawa outperforms Aso in party head
ability

MAINICHI (Top play) (Excerpts)
December 8, 2008

Mainichi Shimbun conducted a nationwide telephone opinion survey on
Dec. 6-7. The results showed that the rate of support for Prime
Minister Taro Aso's cabinet was 21 PERCENT , a decline of 15
percentage points, and the disapproval rate was 58 PERCENT , up 17
percentage points from the pervious poll conducted in October. To a
question asking who -- Prime Minister Aso or Democratic Party of
Japan President Ichiro Ozawa -- is more fit to be prime minister,
the two traded places for the first time, with Aso marking 19
PERCENT , down 21 percentage points, and Ozawa recording 21 PERCENT
, up 3 percentage points. PM Aso, who assumed office as party's
standard bearer for the next election and as a capable party head,
is certain to find it even more difficult to steer his
administration.

The support rate of 21 PERCENT is even lower than the former Abe
cabinet's lowest rating of 22 PERCENT , marked in a survey conducted
in August 2007 shortly after the LDP suffered a crushing setback in
the House of Councillors election. Abe announced his resignation a
little over one month later. The rate was similarly low at 18
PERCENT , recorded in May 2008, and at 21 PERCENT and 22 PERCENT
in June and July, respectively, under the former Fukuda
administration.

As the reason for supporting the cabinet, 19 PERCENT of people,
down 14 percentage points from the previous survey, said they pinned
hopes on the prime minister's leadership. As the reason for not
supporting the cabinet, 27 PERCENT of people, up 14 percentage
points, said they could not pin hopes on the prime minister's
leadership. The administration that has followed a wild path in
determining policies and the prime minister's gaffes seem to have
taken a toll on the support rating.

TOKYO 00003327 003 OF 009

In response to a question about the prime minister's inadvertent
comments and his blunders in reading kanji, 48 PERCENT of people
said they doubted Aso's qualification to be prime minister, while 42
PERCENT said such things were minor. To the question asking who is
more suitable for the top job, the answer "neither is suitable"
increased 14 percentage points to 54 PERCENT . Those who used to
pick Aso seemed to have joined this group.

3) Cabinet support rate plummets to 25.5 PERCENT in national
telephone-based poll

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 1) (Excerpt)
December 8, 2008

Kyodo Wire Service carried out a nationwide telephone-based opinion
survey on Dec. 6-7 and found that the support rate for the cabinet
of Prime Minister Taro Aso has unusually plummeted 15.4 points from
the last poll to 25.5 PERCENT . The non-support rate soared 19.1
points from last time to 61.3 PERCENT . In response to the question
about who is more appropriate to be prime minister, Prime Minister
Taro Aso or Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa, 34.5
PERCENT picked Ozawa (10.1 PERCENT higher than last time), while
33.5 PERCENT chose Aso (a drop of 17.5 points). For the first time,
the two have traded places in that category.

4) LDP's Ishihara feels crisis coming on: LDP, Aso administration on
brink of disaster

MAINICHI (Page 5) (Full)
December 6, 2008

At a fund-raising party yesterday in a Tokyo hotel, Nobuteru
Ishihara, senior deputy secretary general of the ruling Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP), expressed a strong sense of crisis about
holding the next Lower House election under Prime Minister Taro Aso.
He said:

"As many as 70 PERCENT to 80 PERCENT of LDP lawmakers are wary of
whether the party can remain in the ruling camp if the election is
held under the Aso administration. Both the LDP and the Aso
administration may be on the brink of disaster."

Ishihara ran against Aso in last September's LDP presidential
election. He is now in charge of the urban electoral districts for
the next Lower House election. He said: "I assume that 60 PERCENT
to 70 PERCENT of the population probably are willing to let the DPJ
hold the reins of government at least once."

Meanwhile, former Administrative Reform Minister Yoshimi Watanabe of
the LDP, pointed out on a radio program on Dec. 5: "No matter which
party, the LDP or DPJ, wins, political realignment is unavoidable."
He then added: "(For economic recovery) a crisis management cabinet
should be formed."

5) Sasagawa: "Obuchi chosen as minister for declining birthrate only
because she has a child"

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 2) (Full)
December 7, 2008

Takashi Sasagawa, chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's General

TOKYO 00003327 004 OF 009


Council, said yesterday that LDP Lower House member Yuko Obuchi was
chosen as state minister in charge of the declining birthrate
because she gave birth to a boy. He said in a speech at a party in
Matsue City: "Why was she chosen as the minister? That is because
she had a baby. If an unmarried woman with no child assumed the
post, people would question how she could really understand how to
tackle the declining birthrate." The controversial remark could be
taken as meaning that whether or not a person has a child can be
used as a criterion for appointment to an official post, so Sasagawa
might come under fire.

Sasagawa also said: "I could have assumed the post, as I have 14
grandchildren." Keeping the declining population of Shimane
Prefecture in mind, he added: "The population will not increase
without effort. Recent young people have not made enough effort."
Later, he said in an interview with Kyodo News: "I did not mean that
a person without children cannot assume the ministerial post. I just
mean it would be more persuasive if a person who has a child, like
Ms. Obuchi, assumes the post."

6) DPJ holds Obama-style study sessions in order for party to
"change," too

YOMIURI (Page 4) (Full)
December 7, 2008

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the largest opposition party,
is now trying to introduce election methods and policy measures that
are similar to those used by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama too
during his election campaign. Following the example of Obama, who
won a landslide victory in the presidential race with "change" as
the slogan, the DPJ appears to be aiming at similarly taking the
reins of government.

Obama reportedly succeeded in expanding grassroots' networks, as
well as collecting funds by taking advantage of cell phones and
other methods. He has a reputation for his oratory skills.

In order to learn such points, the DPJ has held so far two study
sessions, mainly by the national movement panel (headed by Sakihito
Ozawa). The panel invited the party's Upper House member Kuniko
Tanioka, whose secretary worked as a volunteer for Obama during the
campaign and who also studied Obama's election campaign, and
Kazuhide Nishikawa, a part-time lecturer and the author of the book
titled Obama's Narrative Technique and Maneuvering to Win, as
speakers.

In the study sessions, one speaker reportedly said: "It is believed
that pointing one's finger toward another person is a bad behavior,
but Mr. Obama does it often. That behavior has an effect to impress
the other side." One participant said: "I want to learn quickly Mr.
Obama's verbal skills that accentuate his differences with rivals. I
also want to carry out campaigning without depending on the party,
such as by using more volunteers."

In the wake of Obama's "green new deal" concept of creating jobs by
using natural energy sources, the DPJ intends to come up a Japanese
version of a "green new deal" notion to create new jobs for 2.5
million people. The party is now looking into coming up with a plan
before the next Lower House election and submitting a bill to the
Diet after the election.


TOKYO 00003327 005 OF 009


7) Armitage: President-elect Obama's administration to stress
multilateralism in diplomacy

YOMIURI (Page 9) (Excerpts)
December 6, 2008

A symposium to discuss the direction of the U.S. administration
expected under President-elect Obama titled, "Continuity and Change
in America, (sponsored by the America Studies Program at Keio
University and supported by the Yomiuri Shimbun) was held in at Keio
University in Tokyo's Minato Ward on December 5. Japan expert
Richard Armitage, a former deputy secretary at the U.S. State
Department, gave the keynote speech. In it, he pointed out that the
foreign policy of the administration of President-elect Obama "will
place emphasis on multilateralism and use of the United Nations."

Armitage, commenting on equipping East Europe with missile defense
(MD), which the Bush administration has promoted, predicted, "Mr.
Obama will slow the process down a bit." On Russia, with which
relations have worsened over the Georgian dispute, he stated: "He
will respect is as a major power and likely listen to its views." He
also stressed that "there is no more important place right now in
the world than Pakistan." In addition, he said, "There is fear that
the people there might become immediately radicalized," since the
government there is not giving consideration to the nation's
livelihood. He expressed concern that there could be an impact on
the war on terror in Afghanistan.

8) Government poll: 71 PERCENT of Japanese do not feel that
relations with China are good, possibly reflecting food poisoning
cases

ASAHI (Page 1) (Abridged slightly
December 7, 2008

Over 70 PERCENT of the Japanese people believe that relations with
China are not good, the highest figure ever in a government poll on
diplomacy released on Dec. 6. The answer, "I do not feel friendly
toward China," also was a record high in the poll. The Foreign
Ministry believes the figures resulted mainly from the recent
food-poisoning cases involving China, including pesticide-tainted
imported frozen dumplings.

The survey has been conducted annually since 1975. This year, the
poll was conducted in October on 3,000 people across Japan, with
1,826 people responding with valid answers.

Asked about Japan's relations with China, 71.9 PERCENT of Japanese
answered that they did not feel they were good. This is up from last
year's 68.0 PERCENT . The answer had hovered around 50 PERCENT up
until 2003, and surpassed 60 PERCENT in 2004. Over the last three
years, the rate has run around 70 PERCENT . Only 23.7 PERCENT said
bilateral relations were good, down from last year's 26.4 PERCENT .

People who feel no affinity toward China also increased to 66.6
PERCENT from last year's 63.5 PERCENT . The rate of those feeling
friendship toward China was the lowest ever at 31.8 PERCENT , down
from 34.0 PERCENT .

Asked about Japan-U.S. relations, 28.1 PERCENT of Japanese, the
highest rate since 1998, said they did not feel they were good, up
from last year's 20.4 PERCENT . Meanwhile, 68.9 PERCENT , the lowest

TOKYO 00003327 006 OF 009


rate since 1998, felt they were in good shape. But last year's rate
was higher: 76.3 PERCENT .

Asked about relations with South Korea, 49.5 PERCENT considered
them were good (49.9 PERCENT last year), and a record 57.1 PERCENT
(54.8 PERCENT last year) said they felt friendly toward that
country.

A Foreign Ministry source said: "We think the trend is ascribable to
improved bilateral relations since the inauguration of President Lee
Myung Bak and expanded exchanges on the private level."

Asked about economic cooperation toward developing countries, 30.4
PERCENT of people said it should be promoted actively, up nearly 6
percentage points from last year.

9) Family member of missing person suspected of having been abducted
to North Korea to write letter to President-elect Obama

SANKEI (Page 3) (Full)
December 7, 2008

A family member of Takako Ikushima in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo (31 years
old at the time), a missing person suspected of having been abducted
by North Korea, will send a letter to U.S. President-elect Obama,
seeking cooperation for and understanding of the abduction issue and
hoping for help to reach a settlement. Amid concern that the new
U.S. administration will be inclined toward a dialogue policy toward
that nation, with Japan-North Korea talks at an impasse, the
victim's elder sister Keiko (68) will write a letter to the
president-elect to argue for help to rescue the abduction victims.

Takako, who disappeared from her home in November 1974, is one of
the persons whom the Specified Missing Persons Issue Research Group,
chaired by Kazuhiro Araki, believes was abducted. One North Korean
defector in the summer of 2004 provided a reported of sightings of
Takako.

However, there is growing concern that since she has not been
officially recognized by the Japanese government as an abductee, the
governments of Japan and the U.S. might not address her case once
the U.S. Democratic Party takes power in January, as Keiko noted.

10) Japan, U.S. South Korea agree to continuously urge North Korea
to agree on codifying sampling

YOMIURI (Page 2) (Full)
December 8, 2008

(Takeo Miyazaki, Jun Kato, Beijing)

Chief envoys of the six party talks on North Korea's
denuclearization from Japan, the U.S., and South Korea met at the
U.S. Embassy in Beijing on the afternoon of Dec. 7 to coordinate
views on the eve of their next round to be resumed on the 8th after
a lapse of five months.

U.S Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill detailed his
meeting with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan in
Singapore on Dec. 4-5 to Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian
Affairs Bureau Director General Akitaka Saiki and South Korean
Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry's Director of Korean Peninsula

TOKYO 00003327 007 OF 009


Peace Negotiations Kim Sook. According to Hill, the gap remained
wide in the U.S.-North Korea talks over the issue of putting an
accord on the sampling of nuclear materials into writing. They
reaffirmed they would to continue to urge the North to respond to
their call.

The three chief negotiators also agree on the view that the three
countries in close cooperation should discuss when to complete the
second phase of the disabling of existing nuclear facilities, which
includes codifying sampling, the North's denuclearization, and
energy aid to the North. Coordination is likely to be carried out
mainly on the idea of ending the second phase by March 2009.

Saiki told reporters after the trilateral meeting:

"Tough negotiations are expected as the gap remains big between the
U.S. and North Korea. ... We would like to create a verification
framework that will not allow various interpretations afterward."

11) Six-party talks to resume today; Government eager to search for
new route to break impasse on abduction issue

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
December 8, 2008

The six-party talks on North Korea's denuclearization will resume in
Beijing on Dec. 8. No progress has been made on the issue of
Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, and the
government has begun to search for new routes to break the impasse
in an attempt to seek cooperation from European countries that have
established diplomatic ties with North Korea and by other means.
Japan is trying to contact North Korea in the six-party talks this
time and urge it to immediately launch a reinvestigation into the
whereabouts of the abduction victims.

In Japan-North Korea talks in August, North Korea promised to
complete a reinvestigation to the extent possible by fall, but it
has delayed the reinvestigation while citing such reasons as the
Japanese political situation. Foreign Ministry Asian and Oceanian
Affairs Bureau Director General Akitaka Saiki told reporters in
Beijing on the 7th that Japan has urged the North to respond to
Japan's call for bilateral talks.

A senior Foreign Ministry official said: "We will ask the U.S. to
push the North to agree to hold talks with Japan." But a ruling
party member commented: "It is uncertain how effectively pressure
from the Bush administration in its last days will work."

The government dispatched in mid-November Kyoko Nakayama, special
advisor to the prime minister on the abduction issue, to Britain and
Germany, both of which have diplomatic ties with North Korea.

Nakayama had visited Asian countries that have diplomatic relations
with North Korea, such as Mongolia, but she had never visited
European countries on her mission before. The aim of the visit was
"to rebuild the net around North Korea in cooperation with European
countries, which take a strict stance toward human-right issues,"
according to a government source.

In a conference of the Abduction Issue Taskforce held at the Prime
Minister's Office in late October, with the participation of
representatives from the relevant government agencies, Deputy Chief

TOKYO 00003327 008 OF 009


Cabinet Secretary Uruma, who used to be a member of the National
Police Agency, emphasized the need to increase contact points with
North Korea. He said: "It is imperative to consider how to explore
routes to have Japan's messages conveyed to a special agent directly
connected with the party and the military, which conducted the
abductions."

A government source analyzed the Uruma remarks: "It would be
desirable to set up another supplementary route to diplomatic
routes, which are the basis of negotiations." The government intends
to work on the North Korean military, but there is the danger of
Japan's approach fall into dual diplomacy unless both sides make
close contact.

12) DPJ President Ozawa: Large military force unnecessary in
Okinawa

MAINICHI (Page 2) (Full)
December 6, 2008

When asked by the press corps about his view on the realignment of
U.S. bases in Japan, centering on the relocation of the Futenma Air
Station (Ginowan City in Okinawa Prefecture) to land inside Camp
Schwab (Nago City), Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Ichiro
Ozawa said on Dec. 5 in Haebaru-cho, Okinawa:

"I think the presence of U.S. military in the Far East is necessary.
But I don't think a large-scale military is needed in Okinawa. We
must make efforts to resolve this issue through talks between the
two countries."

13) ASDF withdrawal from Iraq: Assistance unit to leave for Iraq

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 26) (Full)
December 6, 2008

In line with the return of an Air-Self Defense Force (ASDF) unit
engaging in an airlift operation in Iraq before year's end, a
ceremony for the formation of a unit to assist its withdrawal took
place at ASDF Komaki Air Base in Komaki City, Aichi Prefecture. The
unit is called a withdrawal operation unit, consisting of
approximately 70 ASDF personnel assigned to ASDF bases throughout
the nation. They will leave Japan on commercial planes on December 6
and 7. They will engage in such work as removing tents and disposing
of office equipment and return home next March.

Meeting the press prior to the formation ceremony, Colonel Samugae
noted, "We would like to perform our duty with the determination
that we should clean the place up before we leave."

The ASDF, based in Kuwait, has been engaging in the airlift of
personnel of the UN and multinational forces, including the U.S.
military, to Iraq since March 2004. An order to pull out of Iraq was
issued in November this year. The members of the unit will return
home in late December.

14) ASDF troops in Iraq airlifted approximately 30,000 multinational
troops

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Page 26) (Abridged slightly)
December 6, 2008


TOKYO 00003327 009 OF 009


The situation of the Air-Self Defense Force (ASDF) unit in Iraq,
which is to withdraw before year's end, was revealed on December 5.
The airlift operation it conducted between Kuwait and Iraq beginning
in March 2004 encompassed 815 flights. About 46,000 personnel and
671 tons of goods were carried. ASDF Chief of Staff Kenichiro
Hokazono revealed these figures during a press conference.

He steered clear of revealing the details of the airlifted
personnel. However, it can be assumed that if the 5,500 Ground
Self-Defense Force personnel who pulled out of Iraq in 2006 used the
service to enter and leave the country, the remaining number of
airlifted personnel would come to 35,000. If the number of UN staff
members also airlifted by the ASDF is subtracted, based on former
Prime Minister Abe's Diet reply given last year, the remaining
30,000 people would have been multinational troops, mainly U.S.
forces.

15) WTO: Chairman's proposal calls for limiting key items to 4
PERCENT of all: Japans' proposal for 8 PERCENT turned down

YOMIURI (Page 1) (Full)
December 1, 2008

The chairmen of the agricultural, and mined and manufactured goods
negotiations groups at the new multilateral trade talks (Doha Round)
of the World Trade Organization (WTO) released on December 6 their
proposals, which will serve as working drafts for an framework
agreement to be reached at an informal ministerial meeting to be
held possibly in mid-December. The chairman's proposal for the
agriculture sector limits the number of key items eligible for a
reduction in the margin of imposed cuts in tariffs to 4 PERCENT of
all items -- 1,332. With its request for 8 PERCENT turned down,
Japan, which wants to protect its domestic agriculture against
low-priced imported agricultural goods, has been driven into a
corner.

The chairman's proposal followed the specifics presented by
Secretary General Pascal Lamy at a ministerial meeting in July. It
noted that the ratio of key items, such as rice, can be increased
from 4 PERCENT to 6 PERCENT as an exception, if a compensatory
measure of increasing an import framework for low-tariff goods is
taken.

Concerning rice, Japan at present imposes an import tariff of 341
yen per kilogram. However, if an agreement is reached as proposed,
it would be mandated to lower the rice tariff to between about 180
yen and 260 yen. Chances are that rice imports would increase,
dealing a major blow to domestic farmers. A ministerial meeting to
discuss the chairmen's proposal is expected to be held before the
end of December.

Talks at the Doha Round failed to reach a framework agreement in
July. Out of concern about the rise of global protectionism, an
early agreement had been sought at the financial summit and the
Association of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit held
in November.

SCHIEFFER

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